--> Getting It Right: Do we ALWAYS have to ask Government to do it for us?

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Do we ALWAYS have to ask Government to do it for us?

Last week’s WorkSafeBC random study of over 366 gas stations found “significant” levels of non-compliance with safety regulations.

The inspections were held in response to the terrible dragging death of a young man named Grant DePatie last March. Grant had been working overnight at an Esso station when he tried to stop two teens who had filled their tank with $12.30 of gas – and decided not to pay.

Now Mr. DePatie, Grant’s father, is on a mission to ensure that gas stations that don’t implement “pay before you pump” rules are put out of business.

He argues that the 200 “gas and dash” events over the past year in Surrey alone are reason enough to bring in the rules.

Gas stations are supposed to have a safety plan that includes rules about what to do in these kinds of situations. These are there to ensure attendants don’t chase after people who don’t pay. Instead, they should call the police.

We all know that all the rules in the world are only as good as the training provided to employees. WorkSafeBC found that employees have not been getting the right types of training. WorkSafeBC, with premiums provided by BC’s employers, is working on developing new standards.

Probably the easiest way to prevent “gas and dashes” is to institute a “pay at the pump” policy.

But does the government have to legislate this or should it be an industry-led initiative?

It is in the best interest of gas stations to do this on their own, to prevent gasoline losses. As gas prices keep creeping higher, the cost of the stolen gas must start to add up.

When politicians are feeling the heat from a grieving father and special interest groups, it is a quick fix to make a new law. But in this case, the rules exist and a law would serve political rather than practical needs.

Do we really need a separate set of laws saying we can’t peel out of a gas station at two am with our tanks full of stolen gas? What else do we need a law for - that we can’t steal plums from a fruit stand between midnight and four am?

The BC Federation of Labour seems to have grabbed Grant’s death to drive their own agenda, which is strange because few, if any, stations are unionized. But whether their ultimate goal is unionization of station employees or something more political, they don’t seem to mind slapping more and more rules onto gas station employers to meet their end game.

Gas sellers really do need to step up to the plate and institute industry standards on overnight payment and WorkSafeBC should continue their programs educating employers and employees about what is safe conduct and what is not.

Because if stations don’t bring forward industry standards about night-time fill-ups, we are just going to see another round of rules and regulations gathering dust on a book shelf until the next tragedy.


At 11:35 PM, Blogger SouthernTory said...

Perhaps it could be worse. A gas Station could be robbed or even the
Attendant could be killed. Gas can be replaced.

To be specific about your post, I belive it should the Industry that
should deal with this serious problem. A gas Station attendant should take down license plates. It
may not be possible to do this all
the time but it is helpful. Also, Cameras should be installed.

At 11:41 PM, Blogger stephen buckley said...

why would it not be in the best interest of all workers in BC--unionized or not--for the BC Federation of Labour to care about the status of worker training and safety and advocate on all workers' behalf?

At 11:58 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Actually, if the government simply did its job in the first place - we would have no need to increase regulations upon law abiding businesses!

Even violent criminals are bailed and paroled so fast it's sickening. A Robber caught for the first time would probably not serve more than one day in Jail today.

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At 3:08 PM, Blogger JeffG said...

Only one issue with having an "industry" solution...and I think that it calls for less regulation rather than more.

It would be illegal for gas stations to get together and decide amongst themselves that they would require a pay-before-pump rule...that's collusion.

Personally, I think the solution would be to exempt agreements with respect to safety of workers or the general public from anti-collusion laws.


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